Thursday, 25 January 2018

St Augustine Way - Caste to Levanto, Italy

Day 3

We woke before the dawn had broken and soon into the Pilgrim routine of packing the rucksack, ensuring nothing was left behind whilst for some of us drinking strong Italian black coffee. For me there's no other way to drink coffee.
By 7.30 we were bidding farewell to our lovely abode, made even special by our next door neighbour, Marco popping round the previous night to welcome us to the village.
Our path continued up and up the hillside, through Caprena and at the saddle of the hill we met up with a local hunter. After some Italian exchanges he pointed us in the direction of Volastra. 1km later at a path junction I checked my GPS as there were no signs for our route. It transpired that we were heading in the wrong direction. It probably was another way to the village but not the one we wanted. We returned to where we had just come from and although he was still there, he seemed to ignore our presence. At the right path we took the steep decline down a cobbled and broken stone path. It was well into midmorning and the with the sun high in the sky the temperature was climbing. At the bottom of the hill we reached a wide level track and followed it to the end.
In Volastra (10km) we went in search of a cafe but it is not tourist reason and everywhere is closed up until March. At the local mini market we bought supplies for lunch and an espresso and returned to the Piazza of the church to rest and have second breakfast. After 15 mins and much faffing by all of us we were soon on our way and our journey continued along the narrow terraces of the vineyards that hugged the cliffside with the sea glistening in the sunlight far below us. Soon there was an almost vertical ascent up the into the wooded hillside to reach the main rd. At the top we rested, naturally, Sue was having problems with a blister and decided that as there was another 18km ahead she would call it a day. Claire decided to keep her company and I pressed on eager to finish the day before it got dark.
After a section along the road I was soon heading into and around the wooded ravines and the 4km along it was hard and very strenuous with some very steep climbs and the odd stream to cross. 
Back on the road I visited the Convent of the Maddona of Reggio situated well away from the road sleepily sat on the side of a hill. This would be a good place to return to and stay the night. There was even a little cafe open but I did not have time to stop.
With 10km ahead of me I pressed on as it was 14:30. Back on the road I made good time and after a further 150m of ascent I was finally descending towards the end of the days walk. At the Convent of Soviore I decided that I need to rest my feet and refuel. With boots & socks off, feet up on a bench I dined on bread and cheese and my goodness it tasted so good.
10 minutes rest was too much time wasted walking but much needed and with boots on once more I marched on. I had walked the route virtually at home in the office using google maps and street view so I knew I was nearly home for the night. After one finally section on the main road I was soon back in the woods on a dirt track which was slightly more comfortable on the feet and arriving at Fontona. 
From that point I relaxed knowing that the last few kilometres were along the suburbs of Levanto and so if it got dark that was ok. I'd tried to contact Claire to let her know of my progress and enquire about them too, but I'd had no signal all day. 
By 17:00 I was arriving at the Piazza del Popolo in Levanto and the end of the days walk and 31km walked.....all in shorts and T-shirt in January.
I asked a local if he could show me the way to the Piazza where my hotel was situated, he pointed across the road and as I arrived at the doorway, Claire rang to say she'd just arrived too. 

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